21 September 2007
A rare bronze figure of Buddha Shakyamuni with backplate
Swat Valley, 7th/8th century
Seated on a cushion over an elaborate lotus throne with lions on either side and supported on a rectangular plinth centered by two deer with a wheel, his right hand lowered in abhaya mudra, his face with heavy-lidded eyes and raised urna, the ushnisha topped with an elaborate headdress, backed by a flaming mandala topped with a stupa and flanked by female Bodhisattvas on either side holding flywhisks and standing on lotus bases
8 in. (20.3 cm) high
Pan-Asian Collection, before 1977
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P. Pal, Bronzes of Kashmir, 1975, fig. no. 75, p. 198.
U. von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, 1981, fig. 12E, p. 97.
C. Reedy, Himalayan Bronzes: Technology, Style and Choices, 1997, fig. no. P23, p. 144.
Few Swat bronzes are known that retain a complete backplate as in the present example. As an unusual feature, the Buddha is here flanked by two female deities holding fly whisks across their shoulders and lotus buds, executed with great liveliness and detail. The stupa at top could possibly allow for the identification of the central figure as Maitreya.
The metal contains a content of 19.7 tin and 2.1 zinc, lending it a silvery color; for the metal composition, see Reedy, p. 282. For another attendant figure compare with a fragment of a backplate from the Eilenberg Collection, see M. Lerner and S. Kossak, The Lotus Transcendent, 1991, cat. no. 86, p. 116.
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